Fence Vol. 2 (Fence #2) by C.S. Pacat & Johanna The Mad

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1.) Vol. 1 ★★★★★

“All I have to do is fence.”

Oh my word, this was such a damn treat. I love these characters and this graphic novel series so very much. Vol. 1 completely stole my heart last year, and Vol. 2 was a wonderful addition. Even though the wait for Vol. 3 to get published is going to maybe be the death of me.

This bind up really focuses on how all of the fencers are still in tryouts, therefore they are being ranked based off their wins verses the other candidates. Harvard and Seiji are at the very top, while Nicholas is trying to climb his way back up the rankings. But we get to see so many match ups in this volume and I was absolutely living for it.

I just love this storyline and seeing all the students at this boarding school trying to live out their dreams with fencing. The conversations are perfect. The art is a new masterpiece on every page. The friendships and brewing relationships are beyond words. The only real negative thing I can say is that sometimes the pacing feels so very slow. But I have no doubts that it’s absolutely going to be worth the wait!

Okay, so like with every graphic novel that I review, I always do a breakdown on my thoughts and feeling of each individual issue. So, the next portion of this review will have SPOILERS! Obviously, I won’t give away anything too pivotal, but I will talk about some of the themes that each issue had inside.

CHAPTER FIVE
Aiden vs. Seiji! Aka: be still, my freakin’ heart! Also, seeing everyone love Aiden just warms my damn heart every single time. Also, Nicholas is finally and officially back!

CHAPTER SIX
Why is Bobby the greatest character of all-time? We get to see a little bit more background on Jessie Coste! And we get to see that Nicholas is really ready to be back and he is even more ready to fence!

CHAPTER SEVEN
Nicolas vs. Aiden! Still, Aiden’s fans give me life. But the winner of this single issue is easily seeing Seiji through Bobby’s eyes! Also, Aiden leaving a cute guy because something more important came up? Good lord, OTP status incoming, I swear to everything.

CHAPTER EIGHT
Seiji vs. Harvard! But also, Seiji vs. Nicholas and their rubber ducky shower curtain divider! Slowest burn of all slow burns! And the next match is going to be Harvard vs. Aiden and I’m not sure I can handle it!

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❤ I also read this for Contemporary-a-thon!

 

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West

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ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“I have to convince audiences everywhere that a zombie loves a zombie hunter. So far, it’s not happening. So far, the only thing future viewers care about is that I’m not someone else.”

Okay, the only other thing I’ve ever read by Kasie West was the short story of hers in Snow in Love, but I think it is safe to say that I am officially just going to preorder everything she writes from now on, because this story was also such a damn delight. And she is now 2/2 for writing the sweetest and softest boys in YA literature. I honestly just had a smile on my face while reading the majority of this book. If I’m ever in need of a feelgood book, I’m just going to turn to Kasie West’s backlist from now on.

So, basically, Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss stars a girl named Lacey who just landed a breakout role in an indie zombie film which she will co-star in with the extremely famous, Grant James! Lacey has only ever done minor acting roles in the past, but she is willing to give up her senior year of high school to move to Hollywood and to give this role all she has. Meanwhile, her father has agreed to move with her, to help give her structure. Yet, he also gives her a tutor named Donovan, who is supposed to keep her on track with the schoolwork that she is already neglecting.

But while filming, it becomes apparent that maybe Grant and Lacey don’t have the best onscreen chemistry with one another. Yet, Lacey is finding it easier and easier to find chemistry with the tutor who is supposed to be teaching her chemistry. *winky face* Donovan is the sweetest boy and I just loved him completely from page one. No spoilers, but the jumping on the trampoline scene? Added five years to my life.

But on top of Lacey trying to put everything she has into this zombie role, it becomes more and more apparent that someone is trying to sabotage her chances of making it big. I won’t lie, this does have a bit of a Scooby-Doo feeling mystery around the movie set, because the someone that is trying to sabotage Lacey before her career even gets started is kind of doing innocent things. Yet, I still loved that it kept me guessing for far longer than it probably should have. Towards the end it became kind of obvious who it was, but right up until that ending point, I was honestly thinking that the sabotage was someone else.

I also didn’t love the inclusion of bits of the movie script in-between chapters. I feel like we got a good enough feel of the plot of the film without those, and it pulled me out of the story (ironical enough) each time I read them. I think this book would have been stronger without them entirely, honestly. Also, there was a scene with them finding a drug dealer’s lair that I thought would come back into play and just never did and it was a little wild.

But my only real complaint was that I kind of hated both of Lacey’s parents. I totally get that she’s only seventeen, but they both just felt like crappy parental figures throughout the book. From her mom, boxing up her stuff and giving her room to an animal that Lacey wouldn’t like, even though she thought she would be coming back to finish her senior year! To her dad who decided he wanted to play a major role in her life seventeen years too late, and then force her to over exhaust and over work herself to try to have a semblance of a “normal” teenage life, after agreeing to letting her act in the movie. I don’t know, they just both rubbed me the wrong way, and not even the ending of this book justified their actions to me. But at least she got a cute and sweet tutor out of the deal.

Overall, I just loved this. It was the perfect sweet and heartwarming contemporary that I needed. I actually think this would be a perfect read for the spooky season. I mean, I wouldn’t say it is “spooky” per se, but it surrounds the making of a horror film all about zombies! And some of the moments in this book will keep you on the edge of your seat, involving the sabotage on the set. But I just think Kasie West is a master of YA Romance, and I think she is so deservingly beloved among the community. I can’t wait to see what she does next, and she 100% made a new fan from me.

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The quote above was taken from an ARC and is subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for a couple comments that are weird about food and dieting, talk of online harassment and bullying, and use of the word cr*zy.

Buddy Read with Amy & Heather! ❤

 

Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) by Maureen Johnson

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“A girl from Pittsburgh came to Ellingham Academy and she wanted to see a dead body. She got her wish.”

Friends, you’d think a book that is centered around two different murders would be a lot more exciting and enjoyable to read. I know I sound harsh already, but I just really thought I was going to love this one. But I truly only ended up loving the atmosphere of the setting and the amazing anxiety rep. That’s it.

This story stars a young girl named Stevie, who just got invited to attend Ellingham Academy, a very prestigious, private school for the most gifted of children. Stevie has dreamed of being a detective her entire life and feels like this is going to be an amazing new adventure for her, because Ellingham Academy is also well known for a murder mystery that happened years and year ago, which was never solved, and one body was never found. The only thing that was found was a letter signed truly devious, which also quickly was destroyed.

Stevie thinks it will be so much fun to investigate the school (which is built into the side of a mountain, like, so freaking cool) but another murder soon happens to a person that she recently befriended. Now, she feels like she must get to the bottom of both of these mysteries, and she’s uncovering more and more secrets that were supposed to be kept hidden.

“Schools may be famous for many things: academics, graduates, sports teams. They are not supposed to be famous for murders.”

Trust me, I made that synopsis sound way cooler than the actual book. Stevie is a cool character though, and I liked seeing her dynamic with her very conservative parents, when she is in a much more liberal mindset. And as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, Stevie has many anxiety and panic attacks throughout this story, and I honestly have never read a more realistic portrayal of how my attacks actually feel and I am still in awe of it. Like, I completely believe that this has to be an ownvoices portrayal, because it was so expertly crafted.

But another fun thing about this book is that we get to see Stevie interact with all the other kids at this private school, and they are all truly possible suspects. Yet, the reader will also be left guessing how this new murder will correlate with the one from the past that was never truly solved.

“When you have enough power and money, you can dictate the meanings of words.”

Going into this, everyone told me that the ending was going to kill me and probably make me the third victim of this tale, but honestly? It just annoyed me. Like, it was so far out there that I was just left completely flabbergasted. Especially after Stevie’s discovery prior to that wild ending. I don’t know, I just felt like it actually ended up leaving a bad taste in my mouth, and for sure didn’t make me excited to pick up the next one.

Overall, this just wasn’t for me. But please take my review with a grain of salt, because almost everyone I know loves and adores this story. I also think a big reason why this might not have been a hit for me is also because I had just read A Study in Charlotte and completely fallen in love with that contemporary murder mystery. Maybe I was subconsciously comparing the two? I don’t know, but I just didn’t love this one, friends, even though I really wish that I would have!

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Content and trigger warnings for underage drinking, panic attacks, murder, and use of the word cr*zy.

Buddy Read with Alexa, Khouloud, Caidyn, Amy & Heather! ❤

 

A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1) by Brittany Cavallaro

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“I felt like I was being pulled through a dark, dank wardrobe into some boozy Narnia.”

This was the most unexpected treat! I thought that I might enjoy this one, but I never expected to fall completely head over heels for it, especially after reading A Study in Scarlet the night before starting this! This is a reimagining of Sherlock and Watson, but told in the perspective of their descendants, Charlotte and Jamie, in modern day! And, oh my gosh, this was just fantastic!

Jamie Watson recently left the UK to attend a Connecticut prep school because of a rugby scholarship, and he isn’t thrilled to be leaving his home away from his mother and to be closer to his father and his new family. Charlotte Holmes also attends this school, but she spends most of her days in her laboratory testing her genius and solving mysteries. And these two’s paths cross because (yeah, you probably guessed it) a recent murder that happened on campus. Oh, and they are both being framed for it!

“We weren’t Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. I was ok with that, I thought. We had things they didn’t, too. Like electricity, and refrigerators. And Mario Kart.”

But this book was for sure a lot darker than I was originally expecting. I mean, it obviously deals with murder mysteries, but it also deals heavily with drug addiction and sexual assault. And I just enjoyed how themes like rape and addiction were constantly at the forefront of the story, and how Charlotte is slowly reclaiming part of herself, while telling more and more of her truth. I just feel like themes like this need to be more normalized, especially in school settings, and I think it was really respectfully done, too.

I said this in my review for A Study in Scarlet, too, but with both stories I just think it is pure genius to tell the story in Watson’s perspective. And it really helps that Jamie Watson is the softest and sweetest boy in existence. But I just think seeing Charlotte through his eyes was so pure and just added something to the story that would have been impossible to achieve in any other way of telling the story. And just in general, this story is very character driven, and I easily fell in love with both of the stars, which was for sure something I wasn’t expecting going in.

“The two of us, we’re the best kind of disaster. Apples and oranges. Well, more like apples and machetes.”

Yet, the heart of this novel is for sure a murder mystery, and I was impressed by how much it kept me on my toes! I really didn’t see the twists coming, and the ending utterly surprised me. I truly loved it, and I thought it was expertly done. And I think Brittany Cavallaro really crafted something so smart and wove something so beautifully.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one! I am so excited to see how August Moriarty is going to come into play, especially with the title of book two being The Last of August! But I loved this reimagining, I loved these characters even more than who they are based off of, and I was completely enthralled with this dark story. I can’t wait for Jamie and Charlotte’s next adventure.

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Content and trigger warnings for talk of suicide, talk of past sexual assault, talk of past rape, murder, a lot of talk about drug use, drug addiction, mild self harm (allowing glass to be pushed deeper in the skin), and drugging.

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

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“Would you do something bad if you knew it would have more good in it, in the end, than bad?”

Okay, I just want to start this review off that this book will forever be sentimental to me, not only because it was the first book I read this year and that I absolutely loved it, but also because it was the very first pick for the Dragons & Tea Book Club and the author came into the group and answered so many questions that made this one of the best reading experiences I’ve ever had in my entire life. This book will just always have a special place in my heart now.

It all starts with seeing two boys breaking into a toy factory, which lands them in an asylum in 2003, and we get to see a dark and intense unfolding of what lead them to this action. We get to see their love for each other and the devotion they both have for one another. This story is told with a lot of multimedia elements that really helps make it feel even more real, and when the story gets darker the pages also become darker, which completely takes the story to another level in my opinion.

But The Wicker King essentially is a story about two high school boys from Michigan, who are both being extremely neglected in very different ways, and they find what they are missing within each other. We get to see August, and his perspective, as Jack starts to get hallucinations and is able to see a dark fantasy world on top of and coexisting with our world. August does everything to try to help Jack and get him to only see our reality, but August is also struggling with his mental health and isn’t heeding the advice of those around him to get help. To August, only Jack makes things better, and to Jack, August is the only one who can ground him.

“The world was so big and they were very small and there was no one around to stop terrible things from happening.”

I’m not going to say Jack and August’s relationship is the healthiest, but it is so realistic and so what both of them needed so desperately in a world that made them feel alone. I ugly cried throughout most of this book partly because I wanted to help them both so badly and also because their intertwining spirals were so realistic and so heartbreaking.

“It was the debt. The river. It was his religion now.”

I also cried a lot because the side character, Rina, was so pure and helped ground these two lost boys so much. She gave them a safe place, she gave them solace, and she gave them unconditional love. She truly was the shining star of this book for me and my love grew for her right alongside these two boys.

I loved the mental health depictions in this book, and you can tell the care that the author took while writing this story. I also loved how queer this story is, and it makes me giggle that some people needed to be told that Jack and August had feelings for each other in the finished copy, because this entire book is a love letter to these two boys loving each other. Also, in terms of diversity besides sexuality and mental health, Rina is a person of color.

Overall, I just loved this book more than words. Being in August’s mind is an experience that I will never forget and that I will keep locked in my heart for all time. I cannot wait to start The Weight of the Stars next month, especially since K. Ancrum confirmed a glimpse at a polyamorous relationship that I guarantee is going to add five years onto my life. Lastly, this book has the best dedication and author’s note I’ve ever read in my entire life (and I’ve read a lot of books)!

“If you drop the weight you are carrying, it is okay. You can build yourself back up out of the pieces.”

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Content and trigger warnings for severe neglect, abandonment, panic attacks, depression depictions, underage drinking, and ableist speech.

This was the first pick in me and Amy‘s book club for 2019: Dragons and Tea Book Club!

The Foxhole Court (All for the Game, #1) by Nora Sakavic

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“It’s about second chances, Neil. Second, third, fourth, whatever, as long as you get at least one more than what anyone else wanted to give you.”

First and foremost, I want to thank May for giving me the emotional support I needed while reading this book:

Secondly, holy shit, I didn’t think I’d actually like this. What even is my life? Friends, I couldn’t put this down. I read it in 24 hours and no regrets were had. This was way darker than I expected, but I became so damn invested in this main character and I honestly fell in love with him and his story from day one. I know this is a bit of a polarizing read, but if you enjoyed Fence and The Wicker King then I think this story is for sure worth a try for you! Especially since it’s free on Amazon US!

Basically, this is a story about a boy that has been on the run practically his entire life. Neil is currently living in a small town in Arizona, trying to stay on the down low, but he can’t stay away from his one love; Exy, which is a sport that is sort of a mix of Lacrosse and Soccer. But Neil is homeless, able to fit all his possessions in a duffel bag and is currently sneaking into his school’s gym to sleep. But his Exy coach notices where he has been sleeping, but he also notices the pure talent that Neil harnesses on the Exy field and sends a video to possible college recruiters.

And the Foxes from Palmetto State University’s Exy team like what they see when they come and recruit Neil. PSU is a newly reformed and up-and-coming team, who are known for taking in kids who normally don’t get second chances, but they are even more hyped this upcoming season because they now have Kevin Day (AKA: The Son of Exy) playing for them. Neil knows the smartest move is to stay out of the spotlight, but he is so very tired of running, especially running from the only thing that brings him happiness.

But friends, I fell in love with these players so damn quickly:

Neil Josten – Ready to fight for and protect at all costs.
Andrew Minyard – Still sus and I’m still not sold on.
Aaron Minyard – No opinion yet, but I know all my friends hate.
Allison Reynolds – Badass princess that I stan.
Nicky Hemmick – The actual best.
Seth Gordon – My fucking face when.
Renee Walker – My chill pacifist who I already adore completely.
Matt Boyd – My heartwarming pure boy.
Dan Wilds – My actual queen.
Kevin Day – My actual king. My favorite Fox. Also, the thing I am most invested with in this entire story is him and Riko and everything that went down and everything that is going to go down.


(Breathtaking art by llstarcasterll!)

But besides these foxes, who I mostly adore, my favorite part of this book was just seeing Neil tired of feeling like he didn’t have a home, and finally not only accepting that fact, but willing to finally carve out something for himself, completely and utterly unapologetically. Again, I’m not saying that what Neil is doing is the healthiest of circumstances, but seeing him realize that he is worthy of a home, of a family, and of love, was just so damn beautiful. And I know that this is just going to increase during the next two books!

“Hope was a dangerous, disquieting thing, but he thought perhaps he liked it.”

Overall, I just really couldn’t put this down. This is for sure a very character driven book. And I’ll be the first to say that these characters are for sure mostly morally grey and they do a lot of sus shit. But… my love for Kevin and Neil just overpowered all the other questionable teammates. But I’ll talk to you all later, because I am immediately picking up The Raven King!

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Content and trigger warnings for a lot of drug use, talk of overdosing, underage drinking, loss of a loved one, talk of suicide, mention of cutting, drugging someone, jokes about rape, physical abuse, talk of past parental abuse, ableist insults, homophobic slurs (the f word), and use of the r word.

🦊 Also, this film adaption fan-cast by Jamieson added ten years to my life.

Buddy Read with Sol & Amy! 🧡

CONTEMPORARY-A-THON ANNOUNCEMENT + CHALLENGES | ROUND FOUR

 Hi, what is my life? No, seriously, 2019 has been such a wild ride just starting a Booktube channel, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be co-hosting one of my favorite readathons of all time! I am so honored, I am so blessed, and I hope you all join us!


DATES FOR ROUND FOUR:
➽ 2/11 – 2/17


CHALLENGES:
➽ 1. Read your most recently purchased or acquired contemporary
➽ 2. Read a contemporary with blurple (blue or purple) on the cover
➽ 3. Read a diverse contemporary keeping in mind its African heritage month and an own voices African author would be a great pick
➽ 4. Read a dark, taboo, or emotional book
➽ 5. Read a contemporary you meant to read in 2018 but didn’t get to
➽ 6. Read a contemporary in a non-traditional format (ebook, audio, graphic novel etc)
➽ 7. Read a contemporary with a picture on the spine (not a color or pattern but an image)

(Double up and make as many of them work for as many books as you want!)


LIVE-SHOW:
➽ 2/16 on Chelsea’s Channel (Time TBA!)


THE BABES:
CHELSEA
JULIE
NATASHA


CONTEMPORARYATHON INSTA



GIVEAWAY(S) INFO:
➽ CHELSEA’S: on the TBR videos
➽ JULIE’S: On the week long vlogs or wrap ups
➽ NATASHA’S: On the daily vlogs
➽ MINE: On the Contemporary-a-thon Instagram!
➽ Go to each of their channels and to their own personal announcement videos for more details about their actual individual giveaways! But mine will go live the on Feb 11th on the Contemporaryathon Instagram, and all the rules will be in the post, and it will last for a week and then I will pick a winner on the 17th!
➽ Winners will be picked at random. All winners will get a book of up to $20 value on either amazon or book depository.


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